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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sculpted Dresses as Arty Body Armor

There is no shortage of great places to view free art in the DC area.  For example, you can go to the National Gallery, the American Museum of American Art, or the National Portrait Gallery in the district. Just across the Potomac, you can go to such places as the Artisphere in Rossyln or the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria.

Chances are you wouldn't consider visiting the Century Center in Crystal Plaza. But the Artspace there is currently exhibiting one of the most intriguing small exhibitions in the area.

The exhibition features a series of dress sculptures by tinmaker/seamstress Donna McCullough. The series originated in 1995 out of McCullough's struggles navigating the male-dominated corporate world.

"They challenge us to consider the societal expectations of women," says curator Bobby Donovan. "Through her art, Donna explains the expressions and values of women, both those they embrace for themselves and those that are culturally assigned to them by others".

"She makes forms that are comfortably familiar, yet must be most uncomfortable to wear," Donovan added. "Her dresses are not the soft sensuous garments of attraction. They are hard and unyielding. Despite the hints of frill and charm, they are, in reality body armor."

For her creations, McCullough uses cookie tins, oil cans, company logos, and other such found objects. She gives her works titles reflecting their intended meaning such as Tea in the Garden or Brunch with Frances.

Her most recent work, 2 sculptures of which are part of the display, is called Drill Team.  Unlike the seriousness of her other sculptures, the dresses in this series offer a whimsical rendition of cheerleading uniforms, all of which display vintage logos and graphics.



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